PHC opens Community Resource Centre to fill service gaps for Gabriolans
The Board of Directors for People for a Healthy Community (PHC) and the organization’s many volunteers and supporters were out on Saturday, Sept. 22 for the grand opening of the Community Resource Centre located in the bottom of the Professional Centre on North Road.
The PHC Community Resource Centre will provide services to seniors, families and individuals living on Gabriola. Services for Gabriola seniors will include an information “hotline” to connect seniors with supports on Gabriola, in Nanaimo and the rest of British Columbia. The aim is to help seniors access all the resources they deserve and qualify for, including Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER), grants for housing, guaranteed income supplements, VIHA services, respite care and free or low-cost income tax services.
Services for families and individuals will include free and low-cost professional counselling services, prenatal education and parenting groups, information-sharing talks, film nights and a small meeting space for local groups. PHC’s Circle of Care program will also be run from the new centre.
The PHC Community Resource Centre will be open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Charlie Cheffins, PHC board chair, said, “This is a great time for us, to be opening this and to be expanding beyond what we do down the road.”
Kathryn Molloy, PHC executive director, said over the past couple years PHC has done quite a bit of research, surveying and outreach to the community to ask what services are needed, “asking what are the gaps and what do we need.”
According to Kathryn, they were told there was a lack of “resources for families, for prenatal classes, mom groups, dad groups. A place where people can come to find out about what is available for government grant.
“Audrey Sumner came in with a group of people and said what seniors need: a resource centre, a hotline, a place where seniors can come find out about VIHA resources. People like Mary Rose asked if we could teach about using computers.”
Through funding raised, one staff position has been created and Maggie Mooney has been hired to run the centre.
Maggie said, “I’m heartened and thankful for the generous volunteers who have helped to make it a warm and inviting and safe place for all Gabriolans.
“The Seniors Circle of Care that I’ve been involved with for six months – they are a fabulous group of volunteers, and there are many other individuals as well.”
She said there will always be room for more volunteers to help.
“If you can be involved, or want to be involved, there is lots to do. We have a really good start and if we want it to go forward, we all need to be involved, in small ways and big ways.”
Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, was present for the opening and said one of the most effective ways to improve community health is to find appropriate ways that are community based. It is the government’s job to find ways to support that, he said.
“It is beautiful when we see a community do this by itself, and how many times do I get to say that on Gabriola, between this and the health centre and other things?”
Howard Houle, RDN Director for Area B, said, “What a wonderful community we live in. It was only a few short months ago that Doug Routley and Jean Crowder [MP Nanaimo-Cowichan] had a seniors round table down at the WI Hall.
“One of the big issues talked about was how to access government services. There was no advocate on Gabriola to help with that. That’s one of the services seniors are going to get here.
“They are also going to get computer services, learn how to access those, learn how to talk to your grandchildren on computers.
“It opens up all new doors.”
Island Trustee Sheila Malcolmson said, “PHC has for 20 years been one of those organizations which fills gaps in the system. We’re in a situation with the province – which is most responsible for caring for the bodies and minds of islanders.
“Fewer and fewer people are in those positions to carry out that work. Fewer actual people are there to answer the phone.
“I appreciate PHC working through the maze of what services and support are available, [and] having an intermediary is so key. You see this need being filled by volunteers.”
Kathryn Molloy said the funding put in place by the various donation organizations was enough for one year of operations, so PHC will be looking for ways to keep the doors open after that.
“This is one year of funding. Our goal and challenge always as a non-profit is ongoing funding. We cannot take funds from the food bank for this, nor can we take money from this for the food bank.
“It is really a separate and distinct portion of money.
“We’re doing the work that the government has let go. We’ll be looking to the government for funds. This should be supported by the province.”